Letters from Le Marche – chapter 3

Letters from Le Marche – chapter 3

Our weekend in Florence was over in a flash and we reluctantly flew back to London Stansted airport. Low grey cloud and drizzle welcomed us with open arms. We drove home through the gloom and heavy traffic.  I was now on a mission to return as soon as possible, my heart was still in Italy…..

I spent my evenings trawling through the internet. Searching properties for sale, contacting agents and familiarising myself with the region.

Four weeks later we returned to explore the area of Tuscany. Beautiful it certainly is but something was missing. We were attracted to Italy, the culture, the lifestyle, the language. Walking around the streets we were engulfed by large groups of tourists and their coaches. We wanted more Italianness, is that an actual word!

We were not down hearted, but more determined to find our perfect place.

I am a great believer in fate. A week later Michael phoned me from work. He had just had lunch with a couple of business associates, one of whom was David Scacchetti, a co-founder and CEO of  Mamas and Papas. He was married to a beautiful girl from Le Marche, in the heart of Italy, and owned a house in Civitanova Alta. Michael had talked to him about our love affair with Italy and our plans to buy a home. David made Michael promise to visit the region of Le Marche before we made a decision. I was intrigued, although I had never heard of Le Marche, David has impeccable taste, it would definitely be worth a visit.

I spent the next couple of hours researching everything I could about the region. The close proximity to both the sea and mountains was a great plus and the air quality would be amazing!

Once I have an idea in my head I’m like a dog with a bone. I wanted to get the ball rolling. By the time Michael returned home that evening I had booked our flights to Ancona. The hotel booking in Pedaso was confirmed and appointments  set up with a couple of agents to view various properties.

A couple of weeks later, clutching maps and a pile of property details we flew into Ancona. We descended the plane steps and I gazed around. Airports are never the most attractive places, but I instantly liked this one. It was small and neat, even I wouldn’t get lost here. I turned to Michael, “it smells lovely here, warm and flowery” he raised his eyebrows and shook his head. To me it was obvious, places have a particular aroma, it’s one of the first things I notice when I arrive somewhere new.

We picked up the hire car and headed to the coast road. The motorway is a much quicker route, but we wanted to explore.

“This is it” I said to Michael. “This is what?” We had been on the road for about thirty minutes, but I knew. A gut instinct, that special connection, when something just feels right. Michael gave me a strange look and we continued our journey. Beautiful white sandy beaches on the left, ancient hill top towns rising up on the right. We stopped for lunch at a beachside restaurant in Civitanova. After a light lunch of fresh mussels and a glass of chilled Passerina, Michael was beginning to agree with me.

We pulled up outside Hotel Villa Ricci in the small coastal town of Pedaso. I always love to stay somewhere which represents the country I’m visiting. I avoid staying in large modern skyscraper hotels. The furnishings are modern and minimalist and often quite boring. Villa Ricci was everything I loved and more. From the moment we walked through the door. Exquisite pieces of Italian antique furniture were carefully arranged on the marble floor. Beautiful crystal chandeliers caught the light of the afternoon sun. Beyond the reception was a large door leading out into an enchanting walled garden with the scent of orange blossom.

An elegant staircase took us up to our first floor bedroom which was just as beautiful. A lovely glazed sun terrace led off the bedroom with views over the Adriatic Sea, bliss.

We unpacked quickly and changed into something a little more summery. We went for a walk, the sea was so close, I needed to be closer. I kicked off my shoes and rolled up my trousers. The water was wonderful, refreshing but not too cold. We walked along the promenade and smiled at the locals, who greeted us warmly.

That evening we had arranged to meet up with one of the agents in our hotel bar. Fabio was half English, half Italian, so language would not be a problem. We arrived early and ordered a bottle of prosecco. We chatted to the barman, in sign language and charades, as he brought over a selection of olives and cheese.

The agent arrived, he was very friendly and knew the area well.  His mother’s family had lived there for generations and he seemed well connected. We discussed in more detail what we were looking for, the classic Italian farmhouse which we would loving restore over time.

We mentioned we were also meeting another agent the following morning to view properties further in land, closer to the mountains. He tried to dissuade us, but we wanted to explore everywhere.

The following day, we drove inland in search of our dream. Amandola and the surrounding villages were lovely, but a little too remote.   I was going to be spending time alone here overseeing the restoration. I didn’t want to feel too isolated and become the mad English woman living in the mountains! It was important to be within walking distance of a town with shops, bars and restaurants. The coast was also an important factor and we felt it was too far away from the water. We didn’t want to be spending long periods of time in the summer driving backwards and forwards to the beach.

The next day we met up with Fabio again to view properties closer to the sea. I had already seen my dream home on the internet a few days earlier. A dilapidated farmhouse with sea views and a fenced off paddock, ready for my horses! We pulled up outside. “I don’t think this is the right house Fabio, where’s the sea view?” He said if we drove a few minutes down the hill and round the bend we could get a glimpse! I focused on the paddock and asked how many acres were included. Fabio shuffled around awkwardly and told me the paddock belonged to the house next door! We spent the following few hours driving around the rolling hills of Le Marche. The views were breathtaking and the sense of stepping back in time was beginning to wash over me. Acres of vineyards and olive groves surrounded us. I felt my shoulders drop, totally relaxed, as I scanned the countryside.

We were taken to see a large pile of bricks and stone in the middle of a field, listed as a partially renovated house! We drove on. Another ‘house’ was eventually found a half mile walk uphill with no road access. The details stated this property needed minor building work, but something was missing, the roof!

I know the agents in England like to exaggerate on the details of the properties they are selling, but here in Italy it was a whole different level!

I tore up the remaining house details I had printed off, took a deep breath and opened my mind to more possibilities.

Michael was flagging so it was time to get him fed and watered in the nearest bar/cafe. I didn’t want him to go all negative and logical.

We stopped off at a beautiful restaurant, Casa de Mar, in Campofilone. Situated right on the coast, with the sound of crashing waves on the rocks and a beer in his hand, Michael was happy. We ordered sea food pasta and a bottle of  pecorino from the local cantina, Centanni in Montefiore dell’Aso. The three of us sat and talked for a couple of hours. We tried to give Fabio a clearer picture of what we wanted, but to be honest, like most people, we didn’t know what we wanted until we saw it. Michael told Fabio that unless Dawn gets that special feeling about a property, we move on to the next. Fabio looked a little perplexed and gave me a nervous smile. With everyone watered, wined and fed we set off again.

We viewed our first occupied house. We were warmly welcomed by a lovely, elderly couple with very few teeth. They proudly showed us round their home, which had been in the family for three generations. We were shown the strawberry plants in the allotment and the oak tree planted by her great grandfather. The bathroom facilities were a little lacking. There was an outside toilet in a shed and inside a shower head was loosely attached to a couple of wall tiles.

It certainly had possibilities but it didn’t have the wow factor.

We drove on, to be honest I had no idea where I was by now, but it didn’t matter, everywhere was beautiful. We were taken to another farmhouse, a promising location, until we stepped out of the car and inhaled. Looking down the valley we saw a long low building. Fabio informed us, rather reluctantly, that it was a pig farm.  We moved swiftly on. The next house we saw was lovely, a complete renovation but it certainly had potential. The owners greeted us and took us into a small out building with a rather interesting aroma. There were glass bottles lined up along a rather lopsided wooden shelf nailed to the wall. The owner opened a bottle and poured out a thick, red/brown liquid into a few plastic cups. Homemade vino cotto he informed us proudly.

Vino cotto, literally means cooked wine and is famous in the Le Marche region. It is a strong ruby-colored wine, usually semi-sweet, and traditionally drunk in small glasses with puddings and cheese.

It is produced from the must of the local grapes, heated in a large copper vessel until reduced to a half or third of its original volume, and then fermented. It can be aged for years and barrels can be topped up with each harvest.

It tasted and smelt a little like sherry and reminded me of my grandmother getting rather tipsy every Christmas. We sipped politely as we took a tour of the house. He was very keen to top up our cups, usually when our backs were turned. After the wine during lunch, the hot sun and the long drive I was beginning to feel a little light headed. I think the plan was to get us drunk and shake hands on the purchase of their home! We thanked them kindly for their hospitality and made a swift getaway to the sanctuary of our hotel…. to be continued.

For more information and to visit us on a discovery trip please contact us at ifh@appassionata.com or +39 331 5413225  

www.appassionata.com

Appassionata for American Owners. Protect your assets and experience the magic of Le Marche.

Appassionata for American Owners. Protect your assets and experience the magic of Le Marche.

Appassionata is a boutique, family run, fractional ownership business set in the heart of Italy.

We are finding more and more US based owners are seeing the benefits of buying into our fractional ownership homes. Not least because of the very favorable exchange rates.

With 30 year highs in the Dollar/Sterling exchange rate, it makes buying in pounds sterling a very attractive option to those holding dollars. In the last 3 years alone there has been a 30% increase in value. A great time to buy.
The world’s economic uncertainty, not least since the US elections, have a great deal of people thinking about asset protection and diversification.

We are constantly looking for the ‘ideal’ use for our money, wanting to have the best of all things: lifestyle enhancement, great value for money and something to pass onto the kids. 

A very select group of Americans have discovered the Italian region of Le Marche and the concept of fractional property ownership with Appassionata. This is quite possibly one of the best ways to diversify your investments while getting the lifestyle benefits of owning a luxury property in Italy, for a fraction of the price.

The AARP magazine considers Le Marche as one of the 5 best places to retire in the world, so it would make sense to consider not only spending more time here but make a lifestyle investment at the same time.

Fractional ownership offers American holiday home purchasers the perfect opportunity to invest in the lifestyle of their dreams on the European continent without any of the potential pitfalls of buying outright. 

The simplicity of Appassionata’s offering in the stunning Le Marche region, is where we believe opportunities in the Italian property market are going to flourish. Not only are property prices 35% lower than neighbouring Tuscany, they are significantly lower than the capital city of Rome. The region offers everything from snow-capped mountains to Blue Flag beaches, interspersed with rolling hills dotted with vineyards and olive groves, and picturesque hilltop towns. The rich lands incorporate 180 kilometres of coastline and the largest number of museums and galleries in Italy. Easy access to all the main cities and multiple airports, makes Le Marche ideally placed. 

Here at Appassionata, we don’t foresee our market slowing down and have just launched our new property.  Il Riposo – ‘The Retreat’ is a unique four bedroom house dating back to the 12th century. Situated in the medieval village of Patrignone the house enjoys open views to the rolling hills beyond and has a private swimming pool sitting within a walled garden. The fractional ownership offered is for a one tenth, five week share in perpetuity, and as the property is held within a UK company your purchase would be in sterling, with prices starting from £95,000 pounds sterling (approximately $118,000 dollars at todays exchange rate) . With over 36 satisfied owners from around the world this proven formula is a compelling solution to purchasing a holiday home in these uncertain times. 

This hidden gem of Italy means that American purchasers can own a share in the property of their dreams, benefit as the property appreciates in value, have the freedom of being able to sell, will, transfer or place the share in a trust at any time. 

And so, while we continue to watch what will happen in the wake of Trump’s election the financially savvy will open their eyes to fractional ownership as a practical and sensible way of owning and enjoying a luxury property overseas; without the hassle, complications and expense associated with full ownership. 

One of our greatest joys is meeting clients from all over the world and introducing them to this very special place. It is wonderful to watch their immersion into Italian life. To experience slow living, to step back time and remember to breathe!

Most of us have experienced life in the fast lane, time passing us by too quickly, but not daring to stop in case we are trampled on in the rush to reach the ever moving finish line!

Appassionata offers you the chance to buy a luxury lifestyle investment to enjoy with your family and friends in the heart of this beautiful country.

For more information and to visit us on a discovery trip please contact India Mauger-Hobbs – ifh@appassionata.com or +39 331 5413225  www.appassionata.com
Mangia Bene: Osteria Pepe Nero Cupra Marittima

Mangia Bene: Osteria Pepe Nero Cupra Marittima

Osteria Pepe Nero is a marvel.
Hidden away in the hilltop village of Cupra Marittima Alta is one of our favourite restaurants. Make the effort to search out this restaurant, you will be well rewarded.
A wonderful warm welcome from Michele Alesiani will greet you as you walk through the door. If you are carrying excellent wines watch that warm welcome turn into a huge grin. Michele loves wine, and knows what he is talking about. He loves to go around each and every table sampling the wine and giving his opinion on your choice!
I love the fact you bring your own wine it adds to the whole experience.
The evening is an event, be prepared to have your taste buds tingled. The interior of the restaurant is eclectic, warm and fun. The exterior terrace is ideal for evenings during the long summer months. Michele has an individual style that is evident in his food and every aspect of the restaurant experience.
The food tastes fantastic and is presented with an artist style that encourages you to take a food selfie! Our most recent experience was Dawns birthday at the end of January. A great party with good friends and family. Non-meat eaters are well taken care of and Michele always substitutes amazing options for the few dishes that have meat.
Great value for money and well worth making a special trip to experience this unique and special restaurant.
A few of the wonderful dishes we enjoyed that night:
A great all inclusive menu, and amazing value for money:

 

 

 

 

Michele Alesiani & his lovely family…

Address and Bookings….

Osteria Pepe Nero

via Castello s.n.
63064 Cupra Marittima, AP, Le Marche, Italy.

Highlights info row image+39 335 611 5534
Your Great Escape: why now is the best time to buy  a holiday home abroad

Your Great Escape: why now is the best time to buy a holiday home abroad

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The US dollar is at a thirty-year high against the British pound, and rightly so American jetsetters are casting their eye across the pond and setting their sights on trips abroad that will now see their money stretch a lot further.

With a reported 50% surge in stateside searches for UK accommodation, there could be a flurry of American travellers exploring Great Britain. However, for those looking to get off the beaten track of London sightseeing, and instead immerse themselves in authentic Italy – I say there has never been a better time to consider buying a fractional share in an Appassionata property!

Now I know what you’re thinking, our properties are based in Italy, which of course they are. But, the properties are actually owned by UK based non-trading companies, meaning they are priced in pounds’ sterling. Couple this with the fact that the fractional ownership buying process is also very straightforward and avoids all the complexities and substantial costs associated with purchasing a property outright in Italy – it’s a savvy option for discerning Americans to consider.

So, if you’re reading this from across the Atlantic, then I will leave you with a parting thought; prioritising a lifestyle investment like this now could see you afford a third more luxury for your money. Looking to your future, you will own a one tenth share in a stunning luxury property, giving you a picture-perfect family space for five weeks’ escapism each year – and it will last a lifetime.

To read more about our property on the market, Il Riposo, and to find out about our Fractional Ownership model head here, and I hope to see you on a discovery visit to Italy soon.

Foodie heaven in Le Marche

A gastronomic gold mine. If Marche is now a certified paradise for lovers of good food and wine, its largely thanks to the province of Ascoli Piceno, where great part of the region’s delicacies originated.

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Olive all’ascolana: starting in style

The Romans loved the olives from Piceno. In Medieval times, the Olivetani monks invented a special brine in which to best conserve them. No ordinary variety of olive, the Tenera Ascolana is now the undisputed symbol of the province of Ascoli Piceno.

In the 18th century, an anonymous cook had the idea of stuffing the generously sized olives with a mixture of meats and cheese and then frying them in oil. Thus, the oliva ripiena all’ascolana was born. In 2005, the delicacy was awarded DOP status. A fantastic antipasto, when served together with fried artichokes, zucchini and bite-size pieces of lamb, Ascoli Piceno’s stuffed olives are a great main course too.

Maccheroncini di Campofilone: tempting the tastebuds since 1500

You’ll have a hard time finding a menu in Marche which doesn’t feature fresh handmade pasta. The area around Ascoli is famous for its “maccheroncini di Campofilone”: little nests of pasta named after the town which started producing them (using a staggering 10 eggs to every kilo of flour) back in the 16th century.

Traditionally, the pasta is served with a rich ragù made with various types of meat and chicken giblets, and a sprinkling of percorino cheese. Other popular sauces include those made with mushroom and, on the coast, fish and seafood.

If you’ve got a passion for pasta, you’ll want to try the region’s “vincisgrassi” too: Marche’s deliciously meaty lasagna.

From ciauscolo to mazza fegato: cold cuts made in Marche

Any guide to the gastronomic history of Marche will dedicate at least a chapter, if not two, to the region’s salumi, all of which have truly ancient origins. The ‘ciauscolo‘ is a soft sausage, usually served spread on thick chunks of country-style bread. Eaten as a starter, Marche’s ‘lonza’ and ‘lonzino‘ are ideally accompanied by a glass of Rosso Piceno wine. For connoisseurs only, the curiously named ‘mazzafegato‘ (liver killer) or ‘salsiccia matta’ (crazy sausage) has a strong and slightly spicy taste.

Gastronomic goodies in the city of a 100 towers

It’s hard to resist the charm of Piazza Arrigo which, with its baptistery built on the site of an ancient Roman temple, archeological museum, and medieval town hall, perfectly sums up the history of the Ascoli Piceno. To learn about the city’s culinary heritage at a glance, head to Gastronomia Migliori: a delicatessen packed to the rafters with the best of the region’s cheese, charcuterie, oil and, of course, olives. Whilst you’re here, pop in to the Liberty style Caffè Meletti in nearby Piazza del Popolo: the place to be and be seen sipping a glass of Anisetta, Ascoli Piceno’s famous aniseed liqueur.

San Benedetto del Tronto’s brodetto di pesce: a taste of the Adriatic

Whilst many of the region’s cities lie inland, wherever you are in Marche, the sea is never that far away. From Ascoli Piceno you can quickly reach San Benedetto del Tronto, where to experience what is, arguably, the finest fish soup of all those made on Italy’s Adriatic coast. What makes San Benedetto del Tronto’s ‘brodetto di pesce‘ unique are the peppers, green tomatoes and vinegar (rather than wine) used to aromatize the incredibly fresh Mediterranean fish and sea food used.

Sweet treats in disguise: lonzino di fichi

The cylindrical shaped ‘lonzino di fichi‘ might look like a salame, but this concoction of dried figs, almonds, walnuts, aniseed, Sapa and cooked must is anything but! Order fig lonzino in a restaurant and it may well be served together with a selection of local cheeses and a glass of dessert wine.

Ascoli in a glass: Rosso Piceno, Falerio and Offida wines

Marche produces some of Italy’s most interesting wines, wines which, not surprisingly, provide the perfect accompaniment to all the region’s best-loved culinary classics. The Rosso Piceno DOC is the ideal partner for Marche’s flavorsome fish or vegetable soups. The dry white Falerio dei Colli Ascolani DOC is an excellent aperitif wine. A bowl of vincigrassi or maccheroncini pasta are best washed down with a glass or two of the full bodied Offida Rosso DOC. Whilst nibbling your stuffed olives, have a sip of sparkling Offida Pecorino DOC – and experience a marriage made in gastronomic heaven!

Edible Treasures of Ascoli Piceno

The amazing and culturally inspiring city Ascoli Piceno has been lived and walked through from different eras which left undeniable marks in the urban fabric. Several styles met, mixed and melt in it – from Romanesque to Gothic, from Baroque to Art Nouveau – all perfectly balanced, and this balance is what surprises most.

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Travertine is the essential element for this game of elegance and harmony: for two thousand years it was used as the basic material in the construction of noble buildings, churches and squares pavements donating, thanks to its mellow tones, the priceless brightness that makes the Ascoli Piceno old town centre one of Italy’s most appreciated.

“Travertine city”, “one hundred towers city”, “talking travertine city” and many other expressions like these may be found walking through its streets. In fact the best way to live Ascoli Piceno and to get to know its real face is “on foot”, going through the distinctive alleys and let the striking views surprise us.

Olive Ascolane

Funny thing, try and mention Ascoli Piceno and ascolan olives will immediately come into everybody’s mind, even though some people tasted them just once. It’s really that easy to be captivated by this delicious fried delicacy.

Olives can’t be separated from Ascoli because so far they became a distinctive element of the city just like Piazza del Popolo, Palazzo dei Capitani or other important places that you shouldn’t miss during your visit.

Ascolan olives have long since crossed their regional border becoming famous abroad too. Then if they are so famous, why should we talk about them in this article? It’s easy to say: sometimes both across the regional border and in the very same province of Ascoli I happened to taste stuffed olives whose only ascolan thing was the name. They were just imitations, or “culinary fakes” as the Accademia Italiana della Cucina would say. “Culinary or gastronomic fake” is when a dish has a name, but the ingredients and the prescribed procedure are not observed. Think about an amatriciana pasta sauce without cheek lard for example. In a recent research the Accademia Italiana della Cucina through its 290 delegations all over the world supervised the public catering in Italy and abroad in order to check the actual coherence of the recipes in the restaurant menus with the traditional ones, jealously kept from AIC itself. They discovered that the “culinary fake” phenomenon is wide-spread abroad – as we already knew – but deeply-rooted in Italy too – which is what surprised us. Within 530 confirmed “culinary fakes” reports 360 were from our own Country, which is over 70%. So I felt like I had to remind what sets ascolan olives apart from common stuffed olives.

The three major points of an authentic ascolan olive are: the olive, the stuffing, the method.

Olive: the particular variety used is “Ascolana Tenera”, which is grown in the Ascoli Piceno and Teramo districts. It’s a big drupe, oval-shaped, green and palatable with a crunchy taste and a fragrant aroma. The “Ascolana Tenera” is full of pulp, solid and very soft, just like its name suggests. This softness is what makes it one of the most appreciated, in fact they are the best pickled olives (for fresh consume) and the best for the ascolan olives preparation in the period from Christmas to Easter. The time is short because the tenderness is its best quality but also its limit, in fact after Easter the fruit tends to get spots, to get ruined and flabby.

For the rest of the year Greek, Spanish or Sicilian olives could be hiding under the breading passed off as soft ascolan, as the delegate of the Accademia Italiana della Cucina Alberto Regno points out.

The production disciplinary is supervising this delicacy since 2005, stating that “stuffed pickled olives, fresh or partly cooked” can be freezed immediately after the production, allowing a long time conservation and resolving the issue of the time limit.

The stuffing: the authentic ascolan olive has got a rich and tasty heart made up of three different kinds of meat – beef, pork and chicken – in different proportions. About that the disciplinary established that the meat must be from farming of the same areas of the “Ascolana Tenera”. The different meats are wisely cooked together with carrots, celery, onions and dry white wine, getting then ground all together. The mixture is then enriched with other precious ingredients such as grated cheese and nutmeg which bring out the taste. After checking the salt, the mixture is thicken with eggs, thus getting both a soft and solid consistency at the same time.

The method: the operator’s skill is essential for this phase, in fact olives must be hand-pitted. Starting from the leafstalk with a unique cut in the pulp we get kind of a pulp tape which allows the olive to take its original shape again, once the tape is rolled up again around the stuffing. The shape is something we don’t have to ignore because an olive with too much stuffing (too rounded) couldn’t capture all the aroma and the softness of the olive, as if it was smothered by the stuffing. On the other hand an olive with little stuffing wouldn’t have the tasty and full notes given by the meats. The true ascolan olive is the result of a perfect balance between pulp and stuffing, between external crunchy and a soft heart, and this balance is what donates to palate a unique flavor completeness which is hard to describe.

Olives are then covered in flour and in egg. In the end they are breaded with breadcrumbs, which have to stay close to the olive.

They are now ready to be fried in oil.

Olive Ascolane

ASCOLAN OLIVES

The ascolan olive, or more precisely the stuffed “Oliva Ascolana del Piceno Dop”, is the “fritto misto all’ascolana” main ingredient, together with breaded lamb ribs and “cremini”, which is pretty solid custard cream, cut in rhombus shape and breaded. In my opinion the olives and “cremini” combination is the perfect union, because the sweet taste of “cremini” is balanced by the olive delicate bitter taste and by the savoury meats; the sweet/salty contrast exalts best both flavours.

With the regulation CE number 1855 of 14th November 2005 the European Union gave to this delicacy the Dop designation. The Dop “Oliva Ascolana del Piceno” is strictly reserved to pickled or stuffed olives of the “Ascolana Tenera” variety from Ascoli Piceno, Fermo and Teramo.

So since 2005 the cultural methods of “Ascolana Tenera” olive tree, the production method of pickled and stuffed olive and the conservation methods are strictly controlled by a production disciplinary in order to protect this regional typicalness.

 

Articolo di Muscosa

Traduzione a cura di Alessandra Evangelisti – alessandraevanx@hotmail.it

Quintana di Ascoli Piceno

The first Sunday of August is reserved for the Quintana, a jousting competition capping a weekend of celebrations in the gorgeous medieval town of Ascoli Piceno in the region of Le Marche.

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Ascoli honours its medieval history by recreating many traditions leading up to the joust, including the solemn reading of medieval documents of the elders, the display of the year’s new banner, procession for the feast of Sant’Anna in conjunction with the celebration of Sant’Emidio (Ascoli’s patron saint), competition of “sbandieratori” (flag throwers), the offering of candles to the bishop, and, of course, the historical parade in full medieval costume.

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The joust itself it a raucous community affair during which many of the town’s 60,000 residents pack the grandstands and cheer on one of the six participants, each representing one of the town’s neighborhoods or sestieri. The games of the joust involve the riders performing various feats on horseback, armed with lances, with awe-inspiring accuracy leaving no doubt they were descended from the medieval knights of Ascoli.

Somewhere for the weekend : Ascoli Piceno

Ascoli Piceno is the southernmost Province in Le Marche. The area slopes down from the Apennines to the sea, passing through the Sibilline Mountains that rise up along the border with Umbria, and creating a formation of hills in the east towards the coastline. This sequence of hills, singing with the changing hues of the orchards and cultivated fields, gently descend from the Apennines to the sea, turning the landscape into a palette of colours.

Ascoli-Piceno

The coast, narrow and sandy, lies between the mouths of the Chienti and Tronto Rivers, and is interspersed with charming seaside towns, for instance San Benedetto del Tronto with its long, sandy beach and wide promenades, all surrounded by verdant palm trees; Grottammare, with its fine, sandy beach; and Cupra Marittima, boasting a milder climate that supports the growth of tropical vegetation.

Mountains, hills, valleys, woods and beaches all lend to the area a great variety of landscapes that can be discovered throughout the year, in all their vivid beauty.

The characteristic buildings, streets and piazzas tell the story of centuries of history. From the facades of its Medieval buildings to its old maze of streets and trails, Ascoli Piceno is a town of art, culture and strong traditions. It is also a cohesive and harmonious mix, due to the widespread use of travertine marble for everything from simple buildings to palaces, from the churches to the pavement of its piazzas.

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Its two main centers reflect ancient and modern Ascoli: Piazza del Popolo and Piazza Arringo, respectively. The former was the location of the old forum, the residence of the Captains of the People, and a vibrant commercial center, whereas the latter was once the political heart of town, with its Cathedral and Bishop’s Palace.

Many of Ascoli’s museums are concentrated in Piazza Arringo, also known as ‘Museum Square;’ they include the Pinacoteca Civica (the public art gallery), with its many masterpieces by Titian, Guido Reni and Giuseppe Pellizza da Volped; the Diocesan Museum and the State Archeological Museum. The old town is well-protected by the Tronto River and its offshoot, the Castellano River, while the modern town spans eastward, following the Tronto to the sea.